Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeLocal NewsA murder, a missed appointment and a lifetime in prison?

A murder, a missed appointment and a lifetime in prison?

Jacob Wideman’s case is chronicled in a podcast called “Violation” created by The Marshall Project.

PHOENIX — After a court hearing in Maricopa County Friday, a judge will now determine whether a killer who served 30 years in prison will get his parole reinstated. 

Jacob Wideman served 30 years in prison after killing his roommate while in Flagstaff for a summer camp. That was back in 1986 when both Wideman and the victim, Eric Kane, were 16 years old.

Wideman stabbed Kane in his sleep and then fled. Wideman later confessed and was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility for parole after 25 years.

“Everyone who knew Jake, everyone who knew Eric, anyone who knew their families were completely shocked,” said Beth Schwartzapfel, a staff writer for The Marshall Project.

Wideman’s case is chronicled in a podcast called Violation and it’s hosted by Beth Schwartzapfel. She has interviewed Wideman dozens of times.

“He never disputed that he did something terrible and his punishment was not unjust,” Schwartzapfel said.

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Despite pleas from Kane’s family to keep Wideman locked up for life, Wideman was released on home arrest after 30 years in prison.

That release lasted less than a year.

“Mr. Wideman was doing very, very well on parole. He had no violations yet had no infractions of any rules,” Schwartzapfel said. 

In 2017, Wideman’s parole officer asked him to make an appointment with a psychologist who Wideman had been communicating with about cost, trying to work out whether his insurance would cover it. He was exploring the idea of finding a cheaper alternative. 

Ultimately, his parole officer said the appointment needed to be made the next day. Wideman called the doctor twice and left a voicemail.

“The psychologist didn’t call it back in time and they arrested him for failure to follow his parole officer’s order,” Schwartzapfel said. 

Wideman has been back behind bars continuing his life sentence ever since.

“He’s been in prison for six years. Because of that? That’s the best they could come up with?” said Josh Hamilton, Wideman’s attorney. “This is not a game. This is his life.”

Wideman has now filed a special action with the court, arguing Arizona’s Board of Executive Clemency violated his due process rights.

“It’s as serious as I’ve ever seen and he deserves to be treated in accordance with the law,” Hamilton said during a hearing Friday.

The clemency board’s attorney disagrees.

“How often Mr. Wideman delayed getting done what the parole officer asked him to do suggests that he was avoiding complying and trying to manipulate the system,” said Kelly Gibson, the attorney for Arizona Board of Executive Clemency.

After hearing both sides during a hearing on Friday, the case now lies in the hands of Judge Mark Brain.

“You should release him and if you’re not willing to do that, at the bare minimum he needs to be given what the law demands he be given,” Hamilton said.

The judge could also instruct the clemency board to hold a new revocation hearing. The board’s attorney stated they are prepared to do that if the judge rules that way.

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